Ichabods In Depth

Published Sept. 24, 2012

Students serve to save lives

Respiratory Therapy studentsSix students in the Washburn University Respiratory Therapy program and the program director recently traveled to Manhattan, Kan. to help the Anthony Bates Foundation provide free heart screenings.

Anthony Bates was a Kansas State football player who died in 2000 at age 20, after a routine morning practice. It was discovered after his death that he had an enlarged heart. His condition, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, may have been detectible with a screening and could have been treated.  

“It was a really good cause,” said Desiree Heinemann, one of the Washburn students who volunteered at the screening event. “I really feel all universities should do something like this.”

After Anthony’s death, his mother, Sharon Bates, started a foundation in her son’s memory with the goal of stopping preventable hypertrophic cardiomyopathy deaths by providing free heart screenings to athletes. According to the foundation, athletes with undetected heart conditions such as HCM are at risk because exertion during exercise and the transition in the cool-down phase can cause sudden cardiac arrest.

On Sept. 16, the Washburn students helped provide electrocardiograms, or EKGs, to about 300 students of Kansas State University. The students were members of the football team, cheerleading squad and marching band. Participating Washburn students were Renae Hagemann, Haylee Nguyen, Melanie Calkins, Ashley Smith, Donni Yoder and Heinemann.

Rusty Taylor, director of the respiratory therapy program in the School of Applied Studies said his students volunteer their skills in a variety of ways, performing asthma screening, pulmonary function screening, raising awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, and as in this recent case, performing heart screenings.  

Heinemann, a junior from Olathe, Kan., said she appreciated the chance to put what she is studying in to practice through service “Most people with heart problems don’t even realize they have one until they are in critical condition or it is too late.”

“It was a really good learning experience,” she said. “We’re doing something good. We’re studying to serve.”

More to know:

15 percent of HCM-related deaths are young athletes. | Many people with the condition experience no symptoms. Symptoms may include:

Shortness of BreathChest PainHeart PalpitationsLight-headedness & Blackouts